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Bernard - In progress thread


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Alright I have the majority of my materials together and have decided on a scene that I'm going to model as a diorama.

I was inspired by Scott when he was asking in his layout thread about making tunnels so that is what I chose to do.

Here is the photo of what I'm planning to do:


Next following the dimensions of the project, I took a 1" thick insulation foam board that I got at Lowe's, measured it and cut it to size.


Some of the elements that I also want to accomplish with the diorama is again using Code 55 flex track and ballast. In the past I used Micro Engineering track but I've run out of it so I went to my LHS and got Altas C55 flex track which I'll have to paint the ties concrete and the rails rust as in the photo. 


The other aspect I plan to do is make all the land formations from "foam". In the past I've used a combination of foam with rolled up newspaper. This time I'm going to layer the foam sheets and carve the shapes. This process can be very messy with the foam flying all over the place as it's being carved. I'll just have the vacuum running when I get to this part. :grin





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More materials for the tunnel. I'm using black foamboard for the tunnel liner and will have to cut out 5 sections, 2 side walls, front & back and the roof.


I have a WS tunnel portal that I'll have to modify to the standards of a Japanese portal. And last 2 pieces of Code 55 flex track. I will have the tracks mounted on cork roadbed.


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I've lined up the cork roadbed with the track lined up on top of it. In the second photo I'm aligning the track with the Kato guide, the track isn't glued down though. In the 3rd photo I'm showing that the track needs to have the rails weather and painted a rust color. The other problem I have is that since the track came with wooden ties I'll need to paint them concrete (a color Badger paints makes)




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The next step is a real pain in the **&$!

I said earlier that since I wanted to use code 55 flex track and my LHS only had Atlas brand with wooden ties, I was going to have to paint them. So that is what I had to do. The first photo is comparing the rails with one rail painted rust color comparing it to it's natural state. At first I was going to use my airbrush but since I only had 2 pieces of track I had to do I decided on hand painting it.

The second photo is the tracks with the ties painted with Badger's concrete color paint. Here are the results (next time, Micro-Engineer weathered flex track w/concrete ties):



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Now time to start working on the tunnel section of the diorama. I've already have cut out the pieces to make the skeleton for the tunnel with the black foam board, but before I put it together I have to make sure that the plaster tunnel portal I have from WS will fit after I trim away the excess. I could have order a Japanese tunnel portal from a Japanese retailer, they're hard to find in the USA, but I have an extra double portal so I decided to use it.

Looking at the photo of what I'm modeling, you can see that the opening is round in shape unlike the portals in the USA. I took a compass and drew a round shape on the backside of the plaster using this as a guide to what I will have to cut away with a dremel drill sanding wheel. Warning: this process is very messy and I use an older drill I have because the plaster particles can clog up the switch on the drill. Wear goggles, the particles fly all over the place. After I finish the cut and wash the plaster portal with water removing any dust particles, I will stain the plaster with WS concrete pigment.

Here is a photo of the portal:


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The next part of the project I chose to work on was the form for the tunnel frame. Here I've assembled the 4 pieces of the foam board with an opening in the rear in case I want to connect some track to it if I want to have a train running. (I'll decide latter if I want to close it or not.)

After assemble I positioned it on the cork roadbed and pinned down the frame. Then I airbrushed the inside with black paint to give as dark an appearance as possible. There is a roof but it isn't in the photo in order to let the paint dry. I also pre-fit the tunnel portal to make sure the front tunnel frame doesn't show when the plaster portal is attached.



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With the tunnel frame done and the interior painted black, before I close it up and start adding the foam for the mountain, I'm going to ballast the track. I'm going to experiment this time, I'm not going to glue down the track rather I'm going to temporarily pin it down with T pins and let the glue from the ballast hold it in place, let if dry over night and remove the pin.

To ballast I'm going to use a small spoon to put the ballast between the ties and on the outer edges. Next I take a fine paint brush and smooth out the ballast and last go over it one last time with my finger.

Then I'm going to take alcohol put it in a spray bottle with a very fine mist control and and wet the ballast. The next step I will make a mixture of Elmer's White glue and dilute it with water at a 1:3 ratio and last add a drop of liquid soap. When I apply the glue with an eye dropper, the alcohol that I put on the ballast breaks the surface tension and lets the glue soak through the ballast. Okay enough of my typing my fingers are cramping up. :grin

Here are 2 photos of the results:



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I've decided to close the back of the tunnel so I've make a back wall for the diorama and painted the section that will cover the tunnel black. I've also cut out a shape in the foam as a guide for the mountain when I start shaping it. This will be attached in the next report.


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I attached the back panel onto the back edge of the base of the diorama and the tunnel frame work. I've attached the tunnel portal to the frame so when I start adding the foam for the mountain everything will be in place. I fitted the 1st piece of foam along the wall of the tunnel frame and will be building on top on this piece. I'm also experimenting with putting a tunnel liner to give the inside that rounded look.


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Time to put the layers of foam on diorama. I'm using a combination of 1" & 2" foam board to build up the area around the tunnel and form the mountain. In the 1st photo you see the roof of the tunnel next to the frame. If this was to be part of a layout the roof would be attached to the foam and I would make it removable but I am going to set in place as a permanent piece. I used PL-300 to attach all the foam together. Once all the foam is in position, I took 1 gal bottles of water to add weight to help set the foam in place. I will let this sit over night before I proceed to the next step of carving out the foam to give shape to structure.





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The foam has set and now the next step is to carve and sand the foam into shape. Before I do that I will put wax paper down to cover the opening to the tunnel portal and the ballasted tracks. Hopefully this will prevent pieces of styrofoam getting inside the tunnel and all over the tracks.

I have 3 different knives I will use to shape it, plus I'll try a Surefoam rasp you can get at any Hardware store. (In the past I haven't liked the rasp it really makes the foam really rough instead of smooth.) and last a small electric sander. Well, time to turn on the vacuum and cut away!



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Well I started the carving. First I used the assorted knives I have and things went smoothly, then I tried the surefoam rasp and was anything but smooth so I went back to the knives to smooth the foam out again. Went to the small sander to see how that would work and it was alright but I went back to the knives. Here are 2 photos of my results of shaping the foam. I think I want to modify the diorama from the photo a little and add something else.



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After further inspection I decided to add a road on the left side of the diorama. I cut part of the mountain down and add a piece of foam that would level the area to the side. This is where I will build the road. The next step will be adding the hydrocal cloth to smooth out the foam and cover any gaps.


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I set out to use hydrocal cloth to hide the gaps in the foam and smooth it out. Before I did this I put wax paper over the track, tunnel portal and ballasted areas. I didn't want to get any of the hydrcal on any of these parts. Next I measured sheets of the cloth and matched with each section of the diorama I was to cover. After I applied the cloth I used my fingers to spread hydrocal liquid over the small holes in the cloth. When this hardens my nest step will be adding Sculpt-a-mold over the diorama to give it added texture.




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Sculpt-A-Mold! This a product that I personally really like. It's basically paper mache mixed with paste and all you have to do is add water and mix to the desired thickness you want. It's messy but washes off easily. 



Why do I like it? It gives texture to otherwise flat areas and it's easy to mold. I've experimented with it and what I now like to do is mix in WS undercoat pigments either Earth or Green (http://woodlandscenics.woodlandscenics.com/items.cfm/UndercoatPigments)

when I'm adding water and mixing up the Sculpt-a-mold. After the mold has set and dried I sometimes are more pigment. For this Diorama I choose Green pigment. Before applying the mold I laid down more wax paper over the parts that I wanted to protect. In the last photo which is at track level looking down the tunnel you will see the catenary set inside of the tunnel.

As with everything, once I'm almost finished with the diorama, I will do some touch up work but not at this stage.





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The next phase I make some rock castings with WS molds. After I placed the rocks castings around the diorama, I went ahead an added WS grass. I use the same method that I use in applying the ballast, I make a diluted 3:1 solution of water to white glue, add a drop of soap dish liquid and coat the diorama. I then shake the WS grass on and then do a mist spray of lite alcohol over the grass so that the grass soaks into the glue.

Here are some photos:



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Today I airbrushed the sides of the diorama with black paint and built the walkway which you can see in the second photo into the diorama. Next I have to make the roadway and start working with the cantenary poles.



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I'm baaaaaack!! (parody on "Poltergeist")


Well I think Vincent was a little worried that since I started on another project, my Bullet train extension, I wouldn't have time to finish this one. Wrong.

As one project was in stages of drying I hopped onto the other project and visa versa.

My goals for the diorama was to start adding the finishing touches. So I set out to add the road, catenary poles and the walkway to the tunnel.


The road I decided to use black "Creative Foam" which you can get at any craft store plus from a previous project I have tons of it left over. It's easy to cut and set in place. The 1st photo show the road in place and latter I airbrushed it with 2 coats of black paint.


Next I made the walkway to the tunnel which I used Serenty's idea that he used in his project for a wall. I took cork stripes cut them up and airbrushed it with a cement color.


Last I worked on the catenary poles and looked at inobu's post about the spacing of them. I tried it a few ways but come up with this configuration because when I took some photos of it with trains on display, this spacing photographed the best.





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I decided to finish my project today with Thanksgiving coming up. The road is in place and I added the street markings (I really don't have any N scale cars to display on it) and in the future I will add a road barrier at the edge of the road, but will wait to add that to a future order. I did a simple stringing on the catenary poles and after doing it, it was a pain getting the trains on the track for photos. I then did some touch up work on the ground cover and re-painted other areas. Here are some photos and it was fun doing the project:






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